Avanthi Meduri is a scholar/dancer/actress/playwright/curator and arts administrator. Born in Chennai, India, she received her PhD in Performance Studies from New York University in 1996 and has carried out archival and ethnographic fieldwork in India, the US and the UK. Recipient of several national and international awards and fellowships, Meduri has published in numerous academic journals and regularly contributes to international conferences. As a Ford Fellow and as Academic Director of the Centre for Contemporary Culture, New Delhi, Meduri curated the Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904-1986) photo archive and presented it in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan and the UK (2003-2004). Trained in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, two classical forms of Indian dance, Meduri’s performance work explores the intersections between archives, biography, history and performance and locates her performance work within the intellectual framework of what is known as ‘practice as research’ in higher education. With performance projects she created a global South Asian dance pedagogy for Indian performing arts at Roehampton University, London, where she is currently a reader in Dance and Performance Studies and convener of the first postgraduate programme in South Asian Dance Studies.
My research project explores the impact of internationalism and globalization on Indian dance theatre traditions with focus on Bharatanatyam and Kathakali, two quintessential classical dance-theatre traditions of South India. While these forms are known as ‘Indian’ dance theatre traditions, they are staged on global stages as South Asian and World forms.
I articulate a post-colonial and transnational framework to historicize this cultural transformation and develop this perspective by drawing on my doctoral and postdoctoral research conducted in India, the US and the UK, and also the global South Asian arts programme conceptualized at Roehampton University in 2005.
I develope this perspective by re-thinking early and late twentieth-century Euro-American dance-theatre histories within the coeval framework of interweaving internationalism(s), interweaving dance-theatre modernism(s), and interweaving performance cultures and traditions.